Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Monday, January 10, 2011
Best/worst case rewind: Colorado

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Inspired by our friends at the Big East blog, we'll take a look back at what we thought the best- and worst-case scenarios for each team were in August, and how it shook out now that January has arrived.

Next up: Colorado.

Best case: 6-6, with losses to California, Georgia, Missouri, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. A trip to a bowl game could save Dan Hawkins job, but he'd probably need to win it.

Worst case: 1-11, with the only win coming over Colorado State. Frustration hits an all-time high in Boulder, and Tyler Hansen gets benched for Cody Hawkins.

Reality: Colorado shot out of the gate and knocked off Hawaii and Georgia to begin its season at 3-1, but Dan Hawkins was fired after the Buffaloes blew a 45-17 lead in just more than 11 minutes to the last-place team in the Big 12, Kansas. Hansen was eventually relegated to the bench, but only because of an injured spleen that led to Hawkins leading Colorado to a pair of wins late in the year over Iowa State and Kansas State before a loss to Nebraska kept them out of the postseason.

Analysis: Colorado, outside of the aforementioned 11-minute stretch, didn't have anything close to a nightmare season, and was one of the league's big surprises in nonconference play. Hawaii and Colorado both ended up being decent teams, but the Buffaloes couldn't put it together in conference play. Hawkins' firing lit something under Colorado, an "energy that just wasn't there previously," as interim coach Brian Cabral described it. It wasn't enough for Colorado to pull a monumental upset over Nebraska in Lincoln to clinch a bowl bid, but Colorado started and ended its season playing some of its best football. They'll need that to continue into the Pac-12 to see success on the West Coast.